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UofL get $3 million to study links between oral health and disease
Placed by : Looking for Dental 16-05-2007
Learning more about how our bodies fight periodontal disease could lead to new treatments for lupus, coronary artery disease and related conditions, say two University of Louisville researchers studying the issue.
Michael Martin, assistant professor at UofL’s School of Dentistry, has identified a naturally occurring protein, GSK3, that appears to control inflammation. He is exploring whether the protein could be used to control inflammation that occurs with periodontal disease, which causes bleeding and receding gums, loosened teeth and underlying bone loss.
A better understanding of the protein’s role in controlling inflammation could lead to treatments for inflammatory diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
“We have seen indirect evidence that suggests GSK3 could be used to treat periodontitis and other inflammatory diseases,” he said.
Martin, whose research on the protein will be published in Science magazine, will continue his studies with a $1.4 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Cranofacial Research.
In another research project, Georgios Hajishengallis, associate professor at UofL’s dental school, is using a $1.6 million grant from the same federal agency to investigate why the immune system loses the ability to fight periodontal disease as it ages.
Hajishengallis will study a cell receptor, CR3, that seems to allow bacteria to “go around” the aging immune system. Since periodontal disease appears to influence coronary artery disease and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, his work may lead to a new ways to prevent or treat those diseases.
“These are exciting possibilities. We hope to develop therapeutic approaches for controlling human periodontitis and perhaps associated systemic diseases like coronary artery disease,” he said.